Raleigh Estate Planning Attorney

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There are several misconceptions about estate planning that many people don’t understand. Perhaps the biggest myth is thinking only the wealthy need a will. Another fallacy is that powers of attorney aren’t necessary if you’re married. You may even believe that it’s too expensive to create a will.

These misconceptions can, unfortunately, put your loved ones in a tough spot. They can also cost you more money in the long run. You can avoid the hassles by working with an experienced Raleigh estate panning lawyer.

Raleigh family attorney Jonathan Breeden recognizes that it can be difficult to contemplate needs in the event of death or incapacity. However, he also has a keen understanding of the considerable benefits of wills and powers of attorney. He can identify your options, explain the advantages, and demonstrate how they provide comfort for your family during a difficult time.

Contact Breeden Law Office to set up a consultation of your case. Call us at (919) 480-8005, or reach out through our online form to learn more.

How Wills Work in Wake County

Generally, your will is a map of your directions and intentions regarding the property you own when you die. It is a document that allows you to choose the person you want in charge of your assets, and who should distribute them to the intended beneficiaries.

If you comply with state laws, the document acts as a legally-binding set of instructions regarding estate administration. You can trust a Raleigh estate planning lawyer to assist with drafting your will, but it’s useful to understand how it works and the advantages it offers.

The Probate Process in Wake County

One key aspect of creating a will is to appoint a person you trust to take care of your final affairs when you die. The person you appoint, referred to as the executor, is required to follow the terms of your will and the rules regarding estate administration.

Some of the tasks an executor performs include:

  • Collecting and presenting the court with an inventory of your assets
  • Notifying creditors of your death and paying qualifying debts
  • Filing your final income tax return
  • Selling assets as necessary to meet financial obligations
  • Handling specific bequests to beneficiaries
  • Filing a final report and concluding the probate process

Non-Probate Assets

It’s important to understand that the probate process won’t apply to every item that you have an interest in as an owner. For instance, you may have a joint interest with right of survivorship in real estate, or be listed jointly with someone else on the title to a car. In these situations, your interest transfers over to the survivor when you die. If you designate a person as a “pay-on-death” beneficiary, that individual receives the asset by operation of law. Examples include the proceeds of bank accounts and life insurance policies.

If you have questions about the probate process, or how to designate someone as a beneficiary, contact a Raleigh wills & power of attorney lawyer for help.

The Benefits of Having a Will

You don’t have to be rich to have a will, but your family, beneficiaries, and loved ones will thank you if you do. The benefits of creating a will,

  • Control Over the Probate Process – If you die without a will, the probate laws of North Carolina step in to decide how your assets are divided. Your surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, and further distant relatives may receive portions of your estate. You’re out of luck if you want to give a specific asset to a beneficiary. It’s also impossible to give to charity.
  • Certainty in Business Interests – Not everyone may have an interest in taking over the family business when you die. However, your ownership in a company goes to your heirs if you die intestate.
  • Your Wishes Regarding Minor Children –You provide care and support for your child during your lifetime, and executing a will ensures that you can continue to do so in death. Having a will that makes your wishes known is particularly critical if there’s no other parent in your child’s life.
  • Reducing Tax Implications – Paying estate taxes can dig into the value of your assets when the government takes its legal share. A will, along with other estate planning options, allows you to avoid or reduce your estate tax liability.

Steps to Creating a Will in Wake County

People often think they can simply write up a will that details their final wishes without an attorney. And while North Carolina does allow for a “holographic” will, people do this at their own risk. There are strict rules for what makes such a will legally valid, and without help, your will could be dismissed.

First, your estate must be administered in the county where your primary residence is located. If you live in Wake County, your estate will be settled through the Clerk of Court at the Wake County Courthouse.

That’s why it’s best to meet with a qualified estate planning attorney and discuss what you want to achieve and how to make it happen. During this consultation, a lawyer will review your financials and go over what documents you need,

Once these items are prepared, you will review them for accuracy and once completed, we will properly execute your will.

The original document will be given to you and your estate lawyer will maintain another copy. The court does not require a copy of their own. Like any important legal document, wills should be stored in a secure but accessible location. We usually advise people to let their Executor know the location of your will and how to access it when necessary.

Wills Can Be Changed

A person can change their will at any point as long as the individual has not been legally determined to have lost the required mental capacity to do so.

Living Wills in Estate Plans

Many people get confused by living wills in North Carolina because of the terminology surrounding them. However, a living will is more important during your life than upon your death. This document, otherwise known as an advance directive, states your instructions about different forms of medical treatment if you’re unable to express your wishes. For example, you may want to make your intentions known when:

  • You are in a coma due to an illness or accident, and your condition is terminal
  • You’re incapacitated due to dementia and not expected to recover
  • You are otherwise physically and/or cognitively unable to direct physicians regarding the provision of treatment

By executing a living will, you can tell your loved ones what medical procedures you consent to, and which types of treatment you reject. Under the circumstances, there is less likely to be confusion or disputes among your loved ones when you’re not in a position to provide permission. For instance, you may approve or disapprove of:

  • Insertion of a feeding tube or IV
  • Being connected to artificial respiration equipment
  • Undergoing artificial methods of resuscitation
  • Technologies that manage your bodily functions
  • Other solutions that keep you alive through artificial means

With assistance from a Raleigh wills & power of attorney lawyer, you can understand the implications of an advance directive and ensure compliance with your wishes for end-of-life care. Plus, you can avoid costly, time-consuming litigation, which could happen when your loved ones disagree.

Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney are legal mechanisms you can use to grant a person authority to handle certain issues if you can’t, typically because you’re physically or mentally incapacitated. By completing these documents according to the requirements of North Carolina law, you appoint someone to act as your agent. There are different types of legal powers you can grant, so consult with a lawyer about:

  • Durable Power of Attorney – Through this power, you appoint an agent to take care of your financial matters, including real estate and personal property.
  • Health Care Power of Attorney – This power of attorney authorizes a person to make decisions related to your medical care, health, and well-being.
  • Minor Power of Attorney – If you need another person to manage medical needs and care for a child, you may consider a minor power of attorney.


To understand the importance of executing powers of attorney, it helps to compare them to your situation if you don’t make the proper arrangements. When you’re incapacitated due to injury or illness, you need someone to communicate with your health care providers regarding your care. You’ll also need help with financial matters, from basic banking to more complex transactions.

Without powers of attorney, the only option left for your loved ones is to go through the North Carolina guardianship process. You must rely on these individuals to pay a probate attorney, file the proper documents, go to court, potentially participate in a hearing on guardianship, and ultimately obtain the proper papers. Meanwhile, during the proceedings, your overall well-being could deteriorate, and your assets are subject to waste because there’s no one to act on your behalf.

Durable and health care powers of attorney eliminate guardianship proceedings, because the documents themselves allow your agent to manage your health care and property. There’s no need to go to court, saving your loved ones’ time and money.

How a Lawyer Can Help Plan Your Estate

Your estate planning options may vary depending on your circumstances, and you must make the right choices to take advantage of the different benefits. If you don’t understand the implications of the documents you are compiling or receiving, you and your family could end up in a situation that conflicts with your intentions.

In these situations, it’s essential to work with a trusted Raleigh estate planning lawyer. Attorney Jonathan Breeden takes the time to review your situation and identify suitable options that serve the needs of you and your family. Even more importantly, he possesses attention to detail that ensures the relevant documents are properly drafted and executed. He has years of experience assisting individuals, couples, and families with the estate planning process, so he knows how crucial it is to present you with a personalized experience.

Contact Breeden Law Office

To schedule an initial consultation of your case, contact Breeden Law Office today at (919) 480-8005.

Call Breeden Law Office today:

(919) 296-3978

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